Dissertation Index

Author: Spiegelberg, Scott C.

Title: The Psychoacoustics of Musical Articulation

Institution: Eastman School of Music

Begun: July 2000

Completed: January 2002


This dissertation develops psychoacoustical definitions of notated articulations, the necessary first step in articulation research. This research can be useful to theorists interested in timbre analysis, the psychology of performance, analysis and performance, the psychology of style differentiation, and performance pedagogy. An explanation of wavelet transforms precedes the development of new techniques for analyzing transient sounds. A history of timbre perception research reveals the inadequacies of current sound segmentation models, resulting in the creation of a new model, the Pitch/Amplitude/Centroid Trajectory (PACT) model of sound segmentation. The new analysis techniques and PACT model are used to analyze recordings of performers playing a melodic fragment in a series of notated articulations. Statistical tests showed that the performers generally agreed on the interpretation of five different articulation groups. A cognitive test of articulation similarity, using musicians and non-musicians as participants, revealed a close correlation between similarity judgments and physical attributes, though additional unknown factors are clearly present. A second psychological test explored the perceptual salience of articulation notation, by asking musically-trained participants to match stimuli to the same notations the performers used. The participants also marked verbal descriptors for each articulation, such as short/long, sharp/dull, loud/soft, harsh/gentle, and normal/extreme. These results were matched against the results of Chapters Five and Six, providing an overall interpretation of the psychoacoustics of articulation.

Keywords: acoustics, perception, cognition, wavelets, trumpet, articulation


1 An Introduction to Fourier Analysis and Wavelets in Music Research
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Fourier Analysis
1.3 Time and Frequency Resolution
1.4 Wavelets
1.5 Wavelets in Music Research
1.6 Conclusion
2 New Techniques for Transient Acoustical
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Wavelet Families
2.3 Wavelet Packets
2.4 Malvar Wavelets (Cosine Packets)
2.5 New Tools for Segmentation and Analysis 2.5.1 Segmentation
2.5.2 Time-frequency analysis
2.6 Conclusion
3 Timbre Perception and Sound Segmentation
3.1 The History of Timbre Perception
3.2 Transient Salience and Sound Segmentation
3.3 Conclusion
4 The PACT Model of Sound Segmentation
4.1 Introduction
4.2 The Attack
4.3 The Transition
4.4 The Steady State
4.5 The Decay
4.6 The Release
4.7 Conclusion
5 The Acoustics of Articulation
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Method for Empirical Research on Articulation Acoustics
5.2.1 The Performers
5.2.2 The Music
5.2.3 The Recordings
5.2.4 Preparing the Recordings for Analysis
5.2.5 The Acoustical Analysis
5.3 Statistical Results
5.4 Interpretation of Results
5.5 Conclusion
6 Cognitive Experimentation, Part I: The Perceived Similarity of Articulations
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Pilot Study on Attack Perception
6.2.1 Stimuli
6.2.2 Procedure
6.2.3 Participants
6.2.4 Results of Pilot Study
6.3 Experiment on Articulation Perception
6.3.1 Stimuli
6.3.2 Procedure
6.3.3 Participants
6.3.4 Results
6.4 Conclusion
7 Cognitive Experimentation, Part II: Music Notation and Semantic Interpretation
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Stimuli
7.3 Procedure
7.4 Participants
7.5 Results
7.5.1 Matching notations
7.5.2 Semantic descriptions
7.6 Conclusion


Scott Spiegelberg
DePauw University
School of Music
116E Performing Arts Center
Greencastle, IN 46135
(765) 658-6691

     Return to dissertations